Longer Breastfeeding Key to Moms’ Slim Waists, Lower CVD Risk

Breastfeeding for 6 months or more was associated with a slimmer waist in mothers years later, compared with shorter or no breastfeeding, new data show.

“Waist circumference…as a measure of central adiposity has been shown to be a superior proxy for assessing long-term risk of coronary artery disease mortality, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome, independent of BMI,” Gabrielle G. Snyder, MPH, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues note.

Thus, “breastfeeding duration may be important to consider when studying long-term maternal cardiovascular and metabolic health,” they conclude in their article published online December 11 in the Journal of Women’s Health.

“We consistently detected that a threshold effect may exist,” they report, “for breastfeeding greater than 6 months.” The benefit remained after accounting for demographic, lifestyle, and socioeconomic factors.

Snyder and colleagues analyzed data from 676 women in the Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Health (POUCH) cohort who participated in the POUCHmoms study, 7 to 15 years after delivery. They matched moms with a similar likelihood to breastfeed, and then compared the moms who breastfed for > 6 months versus not at all or less than 6 months.

“This study extends conventional observational study methods,” they write, “to incorporate propensity score approaches that make it possible to…account for systematic differences in women who did and did not breastfeed.”

Central Adiposity

“Metabolically active visceral adipose tissue, a measure of abdominal obesity primarily distributed about the intra-abdominal organs, may increase substantially with a single pregnancy, independent of total body fat,” Snyder and colleagues write.

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months for optimal infant health. In addition, breastfeeding consumes nearly 500 calories a day for moms.

Prior studies have reported that women who breastfed their babies had less central obesity years later than women who did not do this, but the studies did not account for different baseline characteristics of the women.

Therefore, Snyder and colleagues compared central obesity after about a decade in women in the POUCHmoms study who were seen in clinics in Michigan communities. Of the women in the cohort, 63% of the mothers were white, 31% were black, and 6% were Asian or Native American.

Prior to pregnancy, about half of the women (49%) had a body mass index (BMI) below 25 kg/m2 (normal weight) and the rest were overweight (21%) or obese (30%).

Overall, 38% of the mothers did not breastfeed their babies, while the others did so for > 0 to 3 months (22%), > 3 to 6 months (13%), or > 6 months (27%).  In unadjusted analyses, women who breastfed for > 6 months were older and more likely to be white and have a higher education level, and less likely to be obese before pregnancy.

At a mean follow-up of 11 years, the mothers had a mean waist circumference of 94 cm if they had breastfed their child for up to 6 months, and 86 cm if they had breastfed longer.

Two types of propensity analyses showed that the mothers who reported breastfeeding their infants for more than 6 months had a mean waist circumferencethat was 3.6 cm smaller and 3.1 cm smaller than other mothers.

“We emphasize [waist circumference] as the outcome of interest,” the researchers write, “given that central adiposity is a better predictor of long-term cardiometabolic and cardiovascular disease risk than BMI alone.”

They acknowledge that study limitations include potential pre-pregnancy differences in diet and exercise, for example, that were not accounted for.

Snyder and colleagues call for more research to investigate the effect of breastfeeding in multiple pregnancies on lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Our results warrant further analyses of cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding,” they write, “to understand the magnitude of the relationship with maternal central adiposity over time.”

6 Things That Can Actually Impact Your Breast Size

It’s more than just your genes.
Various breast sizes

Most body parts, like your arms, legs, feet, and ears, grow to a certain size and then stop. Your boobs, on the other hand, are a completely different story. Your breast size and shape can go change throughout your life.

Of course, your boobs tend to have a standard size that you consider your “normal.” And, while they may deviate here and there, you probably eventually come back to this size. While it’s easy to think that your cup size was predestined, there are actually a lot of things that affect boob size. Here are the biggest factors that influence the overall size of your breasts.

1. Your family history.

Your genes dictate your hair and skin color, how tall you are, and a bunch of other things including, yup, your breast size. But your genes are more likely to predict your breast baseline—not your actual size. “Women often are born with their breast size, but it can change in their lifetime,” Nazanin Khakpour, M.D., F.A.C.S., a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center, tells SELF. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be a C-cup if your mom and sister are, but it’s definitely more likely for you than someone who comes from a family with a history of A-cups.

2. Your weight.

Breasts are made up of supportive tissue, milk glands and ducts, and fat, and how much you have of each is unique to you. Some women have more supportive tissue than fat and vice-versa. If your breasts contain a decent amount of fat, you could see a difference in your boob size when you gain or lose weight, Sherry Ross, M.D., a women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells SELF. That said, you probably won’t see a huge change if you gain or lose a few pounds. “It usually has to be a significant weight gain or loss to change your breast size,” Dr. Ross says.

3. Pushups, bench presses, and other pectoral exercises.

If you started lifting recently and noticed your boobs seem a little perkier lately, that may be related. Doing pectoral exercises can strengthen your pecs, which sit behind your breast tissue, and can cause your boobs to push out a tiny bit more than usual, Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., of SoHo Strength Lab and Promix Nutrition, tells SELF. Keep in mind that these exercises won’t actually increase your breast size—but they might grow the muscle behind the breast, which could make them appear a little bigger.

4. Your birth control.

Your birth control can do more than prevent an unintended pregnancy and help regulate your period: Hormonal birth control methods like the pill, the shot, and the hormonal IUD can actually impact your breast size, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., tells SELF. This is largely due to water retention, she says—and it’s unlikely to last. “It’s usually most noticeable when someone starts birth control,” Dr. Wider adds.

5. Pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Pregnancy boobs are a legit phenomena—a woman’s breasts can grow several cup sizes during pregnancy thanks to hormonal changes like increases in progesterone, Dr. Khakpour says. Your breasts may swell up even more when you’re breastfeeding thanks to your milk coming in, but they typically go back to normal about three to six months after you stop nursing, Dr. Khakpour says.

And if you have a few kids, the effects may be more pronounced. “Some women may experience changes in breast size and shape after multiple births and breastfeeding,” Dr. Khakpour says.

6. Your age.

Your boobs probably aren’t the same now as they were when you were 15, and it’s likely they’ll look different down the road. Most women’s breasts will become less perky with time, and that’s totally normal, Dr. Ross says. “It’s largely due to a change in skin elasticity and stretched ligaments,” she says.

While it’s normal for your boobs to change, there’s often a reason behind it that you can pinpoint. But, if you find that you’re experiencing sudden breast changes and you don’t know why, it’s important to talk to your doctor. While it’s likely due to something you haven’t thought of, it could be a sign of a tumor or growth in your breast. Again, don’t panic if you notice changes, but it’s best to get it checked out, just in case, Dr. Wider says.

Breastfeeding lowers risk of heart disease and stroke for mothers, study suggests

Breastfeeding may reset metabolism after birth, scientists believe
Breastfeeding may reset metabolism after birth, scientists believe  

Breastfeedingis not only beneficial for babies but it could prevent women suffering a stroke or developing heart disease in later life, scientists have concluded.

Previous studies have suggested that mothers get short-term health benefits from breastfeeding, such as weight loss and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels after pregnancy, but there have been no research into the long-term impact.

When researchers at Oxford University and the Chinese Academy for Medical Sciences studied nearly 300,000 middle-aged women for eight years, they discovered that those who had breast fed were nine per cent less likely to develop heart disease and eight per cent less less likely to suffer a stroke.

And the health benefits increased the longer they had breast fed their children. Women who put off the bottle until two  years old lowered their risk of heart disease by 18 per cent, and stroke 17 per cent. For every additional six months after that the risk lowered by an extra four per cent and three per cent respectively.

Women's body change to store large amounts of fat, which without breastfeeding may accumulate
Women’s body change to store large amounts of fat, which without breastfeeding may accumulate  

Researchers say that breastfeeding may help restore a woman’s fat clearing systems after the birth.

“Although we cannot establish the causal effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster “reset” of the mother’s metabolism after pregnancy,” said Dr Sanne Peters,  research fellow at Oxford University.

“Pregnancy changes a woman’s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her baby’s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born. Breastfeeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely.”

British women have the some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world with just one in 200 women (0.5 per cent) still breastfeeding a year after becoming mothers. The figure is 23 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the United States.

The World Health Organisation recommends that all babies are breastfed for up to two years or longer

Only around two per cent of women is unable to lactate, and experts believe social reasons, such as the desire for life to return to normal after the birth, is behind the disparity. More than half of British babies have had some formula by the end of their first week, according to the University of Swansea. It is estimated that increasing breast feeding rates could save the NHS around £40 million a year.

Just one in 200 women in Britain continuing breastfeeding after the first year 
Just one in 200 women in Britain continuing breastfeeding after the first year  CREDIT:BLEND I

Although the authors cautioned that women who breastfeed may be more likely to engage in other beneficial health behaviors that lower their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who do not breastfeed, they said the findings provide more evidence of the long-term benefits for both mother and child.

“The findings should encourage more widespread breastfeeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child,” said Dr Zhengming Chen, Professor of Epidemiology, at Oxford University.

“The study provides support for the World Health Organization’s recommendation that mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for their first six months of life.”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Breastfeeding, Cognitive and Noncognitive Development in Early Childhood: A Population Study


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: There is mixed evidence from correlational studies that breastfeeding impacts children’s development. Propensity score matching with large samples can be an effective tool to remove potential bias from observed confounders in correlational studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive and noncognitive development at 3 and 5 years of age.

METHODS: Participants included ∼8000 families from the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal infant cohort, who were identified from the Child Benefit Register and randomly selected to participate. Parent and teacher reports and standardized assessments were used to collect information on children’s problem behaviors, expressive vocabulary, and cognitive abilities at age 3 and 5 years. Breastfeeding information was collected via maternal report. Propensity score matching was used to compare the average treatment effects on those who were breastfed.

RESULTS: Before matching, breastfeeding was associated with better development on almost every outcome. After matching and adjustment for multiple testing, only 1 of the 13 outcomes remained statistically significant: children’s hyperactivity (difference score, –0.84; 95% confidence interval, –1.33 to –0.35) at age 3 years for children who were breastfed for at least 6 months. No statistically significant differences were observed postmatching on any outcome at age 5 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Although 1 positive benefit of breastfeeding was found by using propensity score matching, the effect size was modest in practical terms. No support was found for statistically significant gains at age 5 years, suggesting that the earlier observed benefit from breastfeeding may not be maintained once children enter school.


  • Abbreviations:
    propensity score matching
    strengths and difficulties questionnaire
    structural equation modeling


What’s Known on This Subject:

The medical benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child are considered numerous, yet the effect of breastfeeding on cognitive abilities remains largely debated given selection into breastfeeding. The effect on behavior is even less well understood.

What This Study Adds:

In applying quasi-experimental techniques which mimic random assignment, this study supports limited positive impacts of breastfeeding for children’s cognitive and noncognitive development. Although significant, the effect of breastfeeding on noncognitive development is small in practical terms.

The medical benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are considered numerous and well documented.15 Yet the effect of breastfeeding on general cognitive abilities has been a topic of debate for nearly a century.6 The mechanism argued to be responsible for these effects is the nutrients found in breast milk.7,8 Two specific types of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic (DHA) and arachidonic acid, have been implicated in both visual and neural development and functioning through neural maturation, which is important for cognitive abilities, such as problem solving.911

The link with nutrients may also impact specific cognitive abilities like language development. For example, language abilities, such as vocabulary, are highly dependent on working and long-term memory given the consolidation and retrieval processes needed during acquisition.12,13 In rats, deficiency of fatty acids, such as DHA, during lactation resulted in poor memory retention during learning tasks, whereas supplementation of DHA had reversal effects.14 If the hypothesized “causal” mechanism of superior nutrition in breast milk is true, coupled with the specific impact of DHA on memory, breastfeeding should also impact language abilities. To date, ∼20 studies have investigated this association and all but 115 examined a combined measure of language (receptive and expressive) or receptive language only. There remains debate as to whether expressive and receptive language in early childhood form distinct modalities of language,16,17 raising the question of whether breastfeeding would be equally beneficial to each modality in the case of a 2-factor language model.

Less studied is the impact of breastfeeding on behavior. Breastfeeding may lead to reduced behavioral problems as a result of early skin-to-skin contact, which helps form a secure mother-infant bond.18 Any effects of breastfeeding on cognitive and language development could also prevent the development of behavior problems. The absence of early behavior problems has social, economic, and medical value to society through reduced prevalence of delinquency, incarceration rates, and substance abuse,1921 making this an important area of research. With few exceptions, there remains a dearth of high-quality studies examining behavior,2225 and among them, consensus is not evident.

Without randomization of mothers to breastfeeding and formula conditions, it is challenging to confirm the causal impact of these hypotheses. One study randomized the provision of a breastfeeding intervention, modeled on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, and found that the children of mothers in the intervention group had higher intelligence scores compared with controls at age 6 years.26 The strongest effects were for verbal intelligence. This study offers the best support to date for a causal link between breastfeeding and cognitive development. However, it is the only cluster randomized trial on human lactation.

The majority of studies in this field are observational, thus the causal implications of breastfeeding are questionable given the inherent difficulty in controlling for selection into breastfeeding. For example, initial associations with cognitive development are often reduced after adjustments for confounders, such as parental education/IQ (ie, from an average 5-point to 3-point difference27), and, in some cases, the associations are no longer statistically significant.28 A variety of observational studies now apply quasi-experimental methods to better address the issue of selection bias, making inroads toward a better understanding of potential causal paths. The techniques used include propensity score matching (PSM), instrument variables, and sibling pair models. This study uses PSM because the sibling pair model limits the available pool of participants and instrument variables are extremely sensitive to the validity of the chosen instrumentation, which should be associated with the exposure but not with the outcome except for via the exposure.

Using a large longitudinal population sample, we applied PSM, which mimics random assignment, in an effort to investigate the potential impacts of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive ability, expressive vocabulary, and behavior problems. Both breastfeeding duration and intensity were examined. Significant advantages for children who were breastfed, after matching, were expected for all outcomes. Grounded in the recommendations of the World Health Organization,29 it was expected that larger effect sizes would be observed for children who were fully breastfed and for longer durations.



Participants included families enrolled in the Growing Up in Ireland infant cohort. Families with infants born between December 2007 and May 2008 were identified from the Child Benefit Register and randomly selected to participate. The overall recruitment response rate was 65% (N = 11 134). A detailed description of the study design can be found elsewhere.30 We used data collected at 9 months and 3 and 5 years of age. Only families with complete data for all confounders when children were 9 months and children who were born full term were included (N = 9854; 88.5% of the initial sample). Boys represented 50.6% (N = 4991) of the sample. Attrition across waves reduced the sample size to 8715 children at 3 years and 8032 at 5 years. Some children had missing data on the cognitive and vocabulary scales, resulting in 8535 and 8241 children respectively at age 3 and 7972 and 7942 children respectively at age 5. Additionally, missing teacher reports for behavior at age 5 years resulted in 7478 children being included in these analyses. Demographic characteristics of the families and rates of breastfeeding engagement can be found in Table 1 and Fig 1. Ethics approval was obtained from the Research Ethics Committee, Department of Children and Youth Affairs Ireland, and written consent was collected from parents/guardians before data collection.


Family, Maternal, Infant, and Medical Characteristics: Infant Cohort at 9 Months


The category “1” on the x-axis represents breastfeeding up to 31 days; “2” represents between 32 and 180 days; and “3” represents ≥181 days.


Children’s cognitive abilities and expressive vocabulary were measured by using 2 scales from the British Abilities Scale31. The pictures similarities scale assessed problem-solving skills and the naming vocabulary scale assessed expressive vocabulary. The construct validity of each scale was derived by using the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (r = 0.74 and 0.83, respectively).31 Standardized scores that adjusted for performance as compared with other children of the same age, with a mean of 50 and a SD of 10, were used. Age was adjusted in 3-month age bands.

The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ32) was used to assess children’s problem behaviors. The parent version was used at age 3 years and both the parent and teacher versions were used at age 5 years. The SDQ is comprised of 5 scales (emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems, and prosocial behavior) with ratings of applicability of behaviors on a 3-point scale. A total difficulties scale is included, combining the 4 problem scales, to yield an overall difficulties score. We used the conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, and difficulties scales given our focus on externalizing problems. Validation of the SDQ has been extensively documented.33Table 2 reports the correlations between parent and teacher SDQ reports and the means and SDs for all child outcomes.

Breastfeeding information was collected retrospectively when infants were 9 months old via maternal report. Support for the reliability of recall in previous breastfeeding studies has been established.34 However, given the lower reliability regarding the timing of the introduction of additional fluids/solids, Labbok and Krasovec’s definition of full (ie, exclusive or almost exclusive) and partial breastfeeding are used.35 Two breastfeeding variables were created to assess whether the infant was fully or partially breastfed and the duration of each. Mothers were asked 4 questions: “Was <baby> ever breastfed,” “How old was <baby> when he/she completely stopped being breastfed,” “Was <baby> ever exclusively breastfed,” and “How old was <baby> when he/she completely stopped being exclusively breastfed?” First, infants were grouped by breastfeeding status, both full and partial (5940) and never breastfed (3914). Of those who had ever been breastfed, 4795 had full breastfeeding at some point. Next, breastfeeding duration was grouped into 3 intervals; breastfed up to 31 days, 32 to 180 days, and ≥181 days. Each category of duration was treated as mutually exclusive, dummy coded, and compared against infants who had never been breastfed for the purpose of matching.

Confounders have been suggested in part to account for the associations found between breastfeeding and child outcomes. We matched groups (breastfed, never breastfed) on 14 of the most pertinent factors. At the child level, factors included sex (boy/girl), birth weight (≥2500 g), and having neonatal intensive care (yes/no). At the maternal level, factors included age (≤24 years, 25–29 years, 30–34 years, or ≥35 years), highest level of education (primary level/no education, second level, or third level), working status before pregnancy (yes/no), ethnicity (Irish, any other white background, African or any other black background, Asian background, or other, including mixed background), depression (a score of ≥11 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), and type of delivery (vaginal or caesarean). Family-level factors included having a partner in the residence (yes/no), social class (professional/managerial, other nonmanual/skilled manual, or semiskilled/unskilled), medical card status (free medical care, free general practitioner care, or no free medical care), total number of household members who smoked during the pregnancy (none, or ≥1), and whether the cohort infant had siblings living in the household.

Statistical Analysis

PSM reduces selection bias by matching children who were breastfed to children who were not, but who had a similar probability of being breastfed based on their measured characteristics. We used PSM logit models with nearest neighbor 1:1 matching techniques. In nearest neighbor matching, the sample is randomly ordered with matching occurring sequentially between the treatment (breastfed) and control (not breastfed) group based on participants’ propensity scores. Typically, the pair is then removed from the list and the next match is created. To ensure optimal matches, we imposed a caliper so that pairs could only be matched if the propensity score was within a tenth of a SD of the other. We also allowed matching with replacement given the low rates of longer durations and full breastfeeding in this cohort. Although matching with replacement has been argued to increase variance in the data, it also arguably reduces bias in the sample by ensuring better quality of matches.36 Balance checks in all models revealed substantial reductions of bias between matched groups on all individual confounders (ie, 0%–13.9% remaining bias in partial breastfeeding models, 0%–18.1% remaining bias in full models; data available on request). The remaining overall mean bias across models ranged from 3.2% to 8.5%. The ≤20% remaining bias has been suggested as the acceptable cutoff after matching.37 Thus, we concluded that the analytic matching technique resulted in good matches between conditions. Matching resulted in all participants falling within the area of common support. The average treatment effect on those who were treated (ie, children who were breastfed) is reported. Adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing by using the Holmes-Bonferroni method. All statistical analyses for PSM were conducted by using Stata version 13 software (Stata Corp, College Station, TX).

To note, although PSM is advantageous in mimicking random assignment, a drawback is the challenge in evaluating a linear dose-response association, which has previously been found. Structural equation modeling (SEM) offers an alternative approach to examining this dose-response association. Additionally, SEM uses the full sample and has greater power. Thus, the data were also modeled by using SEM, where confounders were treated as correlated exogenous variables, the duration of breastfeeding was treated as a continuous mediating variable, and child outcomes were treated as correlated, which could be influenced by both breastfeeding and confounders. These results can be found in the Supplemental Material.


Postmatching results for children fully breastfed up to 31 days revealed no statistically significant differences between groups on any outcome at age 3 or 5 years (Table 3). Similarly, for children who were fully breastfed between 32 and 180 days, no statistically significant differences were found for any outcomes at either age postmatching (Table 4). Finally, for children who were fully breastfed for ≥6, statistically significant differences were found postmatching for only 2 outcomes, problem solving and hyperactivity at age 3 years. Children who were fully breastfed scored 2.95 (SE = 1.39, P = .048) points higher on the problem-solving scale compared with children who were never breastfed and –0.84 (SE = 0.25, P ≤ .001) points lower on the hyperactivity scale. After adjustment for multiple testing, cognition was no longer statistically significant. However, children who were fully breastfed had slightly lower parent-rated hyperactivity compared with controls, and this remained statistically significant after adjustment (Table 5). Of note, results of the partial breastfeeding models were similar to the full models, however, after adjustment for multiple testing, neither cognitive ability nor hyperactivity at age 3 years remained statistically significant. These results can be found in the Supplemental Material.


Without randomized controlled trials, the issue of causality will necessarily remain open, however the present results contribute important insights to the long-standing debate of potential “causal effects” versus artifacts of confounding that are not properly accounted for. This study also provides new perspectives on breastfeeding and children’s externalizing behavior. To the best of our knowledge, this is among the first studies to examine expressive vocabulary as an individual outcome and to consider externalizing behavior. It should be noted that our results apply only to infants born full term.

After adjustment for multiple testing, the initial support found for breastfeeding and better problem solving at age 3 years if the child was breastfed for a minimum of 6 months was no longer statistically significant. In addition, no statistically significant effects were found for cognitive ability at age 5 years. These results are in contrast to some studies that have used PSM techniques to examine the effects of breastfeeding and general cognitive abilities.3840However, differences in both analytical choices of the PSM approach used (eg, replacement, calipers) and differing selection of covariates may help to explain these differences across studies. Nonetheless, our findings were surprising in the context of the nutrients in breast milk being responsible for increased cognitive development. Regarding expressive vocabulary, no statistically significant advantages were observed for children who were breastfed at either age 3 or age 5.

The limited research on breastfeeding and behavior problems is inconsistent, despite the relatively consistent reliance on the SDQ. Of interest, studies that have dichotomized the SDQ scales into abnormal scores (ie, at the 85th or 90th percentile) have not found statistically significant differences,2325 suggesting that breastfeeding is not likely to be a contributor to behavioral problems at clinical levels. When the SDQ scales are treated as continuous, small effects under certain conditions have been found.22 In this study, we treated all 3 scales as continuous and found that children who were fully breastfed for ≥6 months had lower parent-rated scores on the hyperactivity scale at age 3 years only. This result remained statistically significant after adjustment for multiple testing. Our results suggest that longer durations of breastfeeding might help to reduce hyperactive behaviors for children who display mild to moderate levels in the short term, but that these benefits are not maintained even in the medium term. This result would seemingly support the recommendation of the World Health Organization, suggesting that breastfeeding for at least 6 months is necessary for early gains to be observed.

The inherent strengths of this study include the use of a particularly large longitudinal developmental dataset, the use of a quasi-experimental statistical approach, the use of a repeated measures design, the use of multiple informants and simultaneous standardized assessments thereby limiting potential shared method variance, the comparatively large number of confounders controlled (ie, 14) in contrast to previous studies (ie, an average of 7.7 ± 3.4 in higher-quality studies28;), and assessments in both cognitive and noncognitive domains of child development. Despite these strengths, some limitations must be noted. First, information on breastfeeding was collected retrospectively. Although the reliability of recall has been established,34 it must be acknowledged that recall bias may nevertheless be present, particularly regarding the duration of full breastfeeding. Second, only parent-reported SDQs were collected when children were 3 years of age. Studies have found that parents typically rate their children as having higher levels of problem behaviors as compared with teacher reports, with weak associations between these 2 types of informants,24 as was found in the current study for behavior ratings at age 5 years between parents and teachers. Having access to child care staff reports at age 3 years would have increased the reliability of the maternal-rated hyperactivity finding. Third, no information pertaining to direct breastfeeding versus expressed breast milk feeding was collected. Thus, it is not possible to investigate whether the association with reduced hyperactivity at age 3 years was the result of skin-to-skin contact or due to the nutrients in breast milk. This is an important direction for future studies examining behavioral outcomes. Fourth, although maternal education was included as a confounder, maternal IQ was not collected in this cohort. In the few studies that controlled for maternal IQ, the findings suggested that it accounted for a large part of the association between breastfeeding and cognitive outcomes.39,41 Thus, the inclusion of maternal IQ in future studies that employ PSM is warranted. Finally, PSM does not address selection on unobservables. Causal estimates may only be estimated by using PSM if selection is on observable characteristics or, in cases where unobservable factors influence selection into breastfeeding, the balancing on observables also balances on these unobservables. Despite these limitations, the results of this study add to the growing literature by showing that some statistically significant positive noncognitive benefits may result from longer durations of breastfeeding. Yet, beyond the statistical implications, the practical implications appear minimal and short lived. It is important to note, however, that these findings do not contradict the many medical benefits afforded to both mother and child as a result of breastfeeding.


  1. Source:The American Academy of Pediatrics

Breastfeeding Doesn’t Provide Cognitive Benefits After All, Study Finds

But doctors still recommend it.


While breastfeeding is often recommended by doctors to help protect newborns from infections and diseases, the question of whether breastfeeding actually leads to cognitive benefits for infants isn’t so well settled.

Despite previous studies indicating that breastfeeding has a positive impact on children’s intelligence – which researchers say could be due to nutrients in breast milk – a new study now suggests that there are no long-term cognitive benefits to breastfeeding.

 Using data from the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal study, a team from University College Dublin studied 7,478 children, whose cognitive abilities were assessed at ages three and five.

During the assessments, children were tested on their problem-solving and vocabulary skills, and were also evaluated in terms of their behaviour, including assessing their emotional symptoms, hyperactivity, and relationships with others.

The researchers found that after accounting for socio-economic variables such as parents’ education and income, there was no strong evidence to suggest that children who had been breastfed as babies demonstrated cognitive benefits over babies who hadn’t.

“[W]e didn’t find any statistically significant differences between children who were breastfed and those who weren’t, in terms of their cognitive ability and language,” one of the researchers, Lisa-Christine Girard, told Katie Forster at The Independent.

But on one measure, the results did show a contrast.

“We did find direct effect of breastfeeding on a reduction in hyperactive behaviours when the children were three years old,” says Girard. “This wasn’t found at five years, suggesting there may be other factors that are more influential as children develop.”

 In other words, it’s possible that the notion that breastfeeding confers a benefit to children’s intelligence hasn’t successfully accounted for all the parental, lifestyle, and other socio-economic factors that can also influence a child’s development and upbringing.

“I think [the study] fits well in the body of literature that long-term benefits of breastfeeding look a whole lot smaller or non-existent if you properly control for your confounding variables,” statistician Brooke Orosz from Essex County College in New Jersey, who was not involved with the study, told CNN.

“The easy question – do kids who are breastfed have better outcomes? The answer is yes. The difficult question is: is it breast milk that improves their brain, or is it that growing up with parents who are better educated and have better incomes makes a difference?”

While the new study might not be able to provide a definitive answer on that issue, the results do seem to suggest that socioeconomic factors could have played a part in skewing previous data – but Girard’s team doesn’t expect this to be the end of the discussion.

“This has been a debate for over 100 years, and we’re working hard to understand the complete picture,” she told Allison Aubrey at NPR.

In any case, while researchers will continue to investigate the link – if any – between breastfeeding and developmental benefits, scientists say the new study shouldn’t dissuade anybody who wants to breastfeed from doing so, given the commonly accepted health and nutrition advantages.

Of course, not every mother is able to breastfeed, due to a range of conditionsthat make breastfeeding difficult or impossible for some – but for women who don’t experience those complications, the advice from physicians is firm.

“There’s a strong body of evidence to support that breastfeeding is one of the healthiest things we can do to support children’s immune systems,” paediatrician Ellie Erickson from Duke University, who wasn’t involved with the study, told NPR.

On that issue, at least, it’s a point that the study authors are in complete agreement with.

“The medical benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are considered numerous and well documented,” the researchers write in their paper.

“[T]hese findings do not contradict the many medical benefits afforded to both mother and child as a result of breastfeeding.”


Instagram user slammed for breastfeeding her daughter while doing a headstand.

Instagram user  Mottajuice, believed to be from the US, shared short clip

  • Breastfeeds one-year-old daughter Julie Ann while standing on her head
  • Youngster suckles happily while her mother maintains her balance
  • But some commenters accused mother of attention seeking 

A trend for ‘brelfies’ or breastfeeding selfies has divided opinion, but one mother has taken things to a whole new level by involving yoga.

The woman, believed to be from the US, known on Instagram as Mottajuice has caused controversy with a video showing her breastfeeding her daughter Julie Ann, while performing a headstand.

It’s thought that Julie Ann was around a year old when the clip was filmed, and she can be seen happily suckling while her mother maintains an impressive balance.

At the end of the 13 second clip, she noticed the camera and turns to point just as her mother performs a scissor movement with her legs.

‘Ladies how do we feel about this?’ she wrote. ‘I feel like that’s a woman who still cares about her figure, wants to work out but has a hungry baby. Fair play to her!’

However, Sean Neale wasn’t impressed by the manoeuvre, saying: ‘There is a time and place for it.

A mother has divided opinion with a clip showing her breastfeeding her one-year-old daughter while performing a headstand


Known as Mottajuice on Instagram she showed off her yoga skills while feeding her daughter Julie Ann

A mother has divided opinion with a clip showing her breastfeeding her one-year-old daughter while performing a headstand. Known as Mottajuice on Instagram she showed off her yoga skills while feeding her daughter Julie Ann

Towards the end of the clip Julie Ann notices she's being filmed and points to the camera 

Towards the end of the clip Julie Ann notices she’s being filmed and points to the camera

‘What if the stupid bitch fell onto her child, she is just doing it for a reaction?’

Meanwhile, Gareth Thomas Adams branded her a ‘weirdo’ and Badshah Imdad Gul said he was ‘speechless’.

Jemiah was also struggling to verbalise her feelings, admitting: ‘I’m stuck for words for a change.’



Some commenters were not impressed by the video and branded Mottajuice a 'weirdo' and 'f***** up', while others were left speechless  


Some commenters were not impressed by the video and branded Mottajuice a ‘weirdo’ and ‘f***** up’, while others were left speechless

Sydney Michelle felt positive about the video, but Zoe Morgan said it had put her off the idea of breastfeeding 


Sydney Michelle felt positive about the video, but Zoe Morgan said it had put her off the idea of breastfeeding

However, Dan Woodward had no such trouble and declared ‘that’s f***** up’.

Sydney Michelle then hit back at a commenter who criticised her for filming the moment, saying she probably wanted to ‘cherish the memory’.

‘I breastfed my daughter for six months and would have done it upside down on my head if I felt like it.’

Mottajuice has been introducing her daughter to her yoga practice from an early age.


Mottajuice has been introducing her daughter to her yoga practice from an early age.

The youngster rides on her mother's back as she performs the crow pose, balancing on her forearms 

The youngster rides on her mother’s back as she performs the crow pose, balancing on her forearms

Instagram snaps show Mottajuice teaching her daughter sun salutations as they balance on a log

Instagram snaps show Mottajuice teaching her daughter sun salutations as they balance on a log

Mottajuice has been introducing her daughter to her yoga practice from an early age.

Even when she was a baby, she performed yoga poses with her and as she grows older, she’s been learning moves from her mother.

Instagram snaps show Mottajuice teaching her daughter sun salutations as they balance on a log, while in other snaps Julie Ann clings on to her mother as she performs the crow pose.


The Amazing Benefits of Breastfeeding

Story at-a-glance

  • Breast milk is a perfect food for the human infant as it contains all the nutrients vital for healthy growth and development, plus beneficial microbes that promote a healthy gut microbiome
  • Prematurely born babies who received their mother’s milk had a 46 to 90 percent reduced risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease that in 10 percent of severe cases causes blindness
  • Nearly 17 percent of women who lactated for a month or less had atherosclerotic plaques, a risk factor for heart disease, compared with less than 11 percent of those who breastfed for 10 months or longer


Contrary to what infant formula companies want you to believe, infant formula cannot replace breast milk when it comes to protecting your baby’s health and promoting healthy long-term development.

In fact, breastfeeding offers a long list of life-long health benefits not just for the baby but for mother as well.

Considering the fact that babies have been successfully raised on breast milk since the beginning of mankind, it stands to reason that breast milk is a perfect food in every way, providing a growing infant with everything it needs.

Modern science confirms this logic, and it is my hope that more women start reevaluating their choice to substitute breastfeeding with infant formulas.

Nursing even has health benefits beyond nutrition. As noted in the video above, breastfeeding helps expand your child’s palate and allows his oral cavity to develop properly, which helps prevent breathing disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea, and all the health risks associated with such sleep disruptions.

Breast Milk Is a Complete Food

As noted in the featured article in The Stranger:1

“Colostrum, the thick golden liquid that first comes out of a woman’s breasts after giving birth … is engineered to be low in fat but high in carbohydrates and protein, making it quickly and easily digestible …

Mature breast milk, which typically comes in a few days after a woman has given birth, is 3 to 5 percent fat and holds an impressive list of minerals and vitamins: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Long chain fatty acids like DHA (an omega-3) and AA (an omega-6) — both critical to brain and nervous-system development — also abound in mother’s milk.

The principal carbohydrate in breast milk is lactose, which provides copious calories and energy to fuel babies’ relentless round-the-clock growth …

Other sugars are also present, including some 150 oligosaccharides … complex chains of sugars unique to human milk … These oligosaccharides can’t be digested by infants; they exist to feed the microbes that populate a baby’s digestive system.

And speaking of microbes, there’s a ton of them in breast milk … much like yogurt and naturally fermented pickles and kefir, that keep our digestive systems functioning properly.”

Besides healthy bacteria, breast milk is also loaded with nutrient growth factors that support the growth of beneficial bacteria, along with components that inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and yeast.

So breast milk really “primes” your baby’s gut and promotes the colonization of a healthy microbiome. This, we now know, is critical for both short- and long-term health.

Another important nutrient in breast milk that is not found in infant formula is cholesterol, which provides other crucial components for the formation of healthy nerve tissues.

Breast Milk Offers Natural Immunity

As noted in the featured article,2 “Not nearly enough people know about this mind-blowing characteristic of breast milk: It changes daily based on signals from the baby.” Indeed, it’s not just vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that make breast milk far superior to formula.

For starters, breast milk also contains antibodies, or immune molecules, that provide the baby with natural immunity to illnesses that the mother is immune to. This is why breastfed babies tend to have far fewer colds than formula fed babies.

Breastfed babies also have fewer ear, respiratory, stomach, and intestinal infections than their formula-fed counterparts. Perhaps even more remarkable, when a newborn is exposed to a germ, he or she will transfer it back to the mother while nursing.

The mother will then make antibodies to that particular germ and transfer them back to the baby at the next feeding, thereby speeding up the recovery process and promoting future immunity toward the organism, should it be encountered again.

Breast milk also contains growth factors that significantly enhance your baby’s gut and brain development, and even helps augment emotional perception and social development.3

It may also help prevent obesity later in life, and offers protection against diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Variations in Breast Milk Linked to Differences in Infant Obesity

Previous research has shown that children of obese mothers have an increased risk of future obesity, but recent research4,5suggests the composition of a mother’s breast milk may be a far more significant factor, and it goes back to the oligosaccharides mentioned earlier.

Twenty-five pairs of mothers and infants were included in the study, which found that infant growth and obesity was linked to variations in the complex carbohydrates (milk oligosaccharides) in the mothers’ milk.

At 6 months of age, children whose mother’s milk contained higher levels of two particular oligosaccharides gained about 1 pound more body fat than those with lower levels.

Other oligosaccharides were found to be protective against obesity at 6 months, with one particular oligosaccharide being associated with a 1-pound lower fat mass.

According to the authors of this study, individual breast milk composition was more predictive of infant obesity than maternal obesity and pregnancy weight gain. Oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates unique to breast milk.

Their primary function, besides providing energy for rapid growth, is to feed the microbes in your baby’s digestive tract, and numerous studies have demonstrated that the makeup of your gut microbiome can have a significant bearing on your weight.

Please note that milk oligosaccharides are not found in infant formula. They’re unique to breast milk. Sugars in breast milk and infant formula are NOT the same. Infant formulas typically have processed corn syrup and refined sugar as their largest ingredient, both of which are high in fructose.

In fact, many infant formulas have as much sugar as a can of soda. Fructose has NONE of the benefits of lactose and comes with a long list of adverse metabolic effects.6

There is a good deal of evidence that the addition of fructose to virtually every processed food on grocery store shelves today, including infant formula, is largely responsible for the explosion of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Research published in the journal Diabetes Cares hows that formula-fed babies are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adolescents.7

Breast Milk Helps Protect Preemies Against Blindness

Breast milk may be particularly important for preemies. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an eye disease that in 10 percent of severe cases causes blindness. More than half of preemies born before 30 weeks of gestation are afflicted, and up to 50,000 children around the globe go blind as a result of it each year. A recent analysis suggests this number could be reduced by more than 50 percent if all preemies were fed breast milk.

The analysis looked at five studies published between 2001 and 2013, and found that prematurely born babies who received their mother’s milk had a 46 to 90 percent reduced risk of developing ROP. The wide gap was due to variations in the amount of milk they received, and how severe their condition was. As reported by NPR:8

“Infants who exclusively received breast milk had 89 percent reduced odds of severe ROP compared to infants who received any formula. Infants who received a mixture of breast milk and formula had roughly half the odds of developing severe ROP compared to infants exclusively receiving formula.

The analysis included a very large older study that had found no reduced risk for ROP from breast milk, but most infants in that study received less than 20 percent breast milk.”

Breast milk has also been shown to reduce other complications associated with premature birth, including:

  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe gastrointestinal disease
  • Blood infections
  • Lung disease

How Breastfeeding Benefits the Mother

In the short-term, nursing helps a woman shed that extra “baby weight” she put on during pregnancy. That alone is reason enough to breastfeed for many women, but the benefits go far beyond that. For example, recent research9 suggests breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Starting in 1985, the cardiovascular risk factors in 846 women were recorded. Twenty years later, the women underwent ultrasound to measure the thickness of their carotid arteries. Thicker arteries are a risk factor for heart disease. As reported in The New York Times:10

“After controlling for many other risk factors, including race, blood pressure, B.M.I., age, and cholesterol levels, they found that the less time a woman breastfed, the thicker her carotid arteries. In addition, almost 17 percent of women who lactated for a month or less had atherosclerotic plaques, compared with less than 11 percent of those who breastfed for 10 months or longer.

Pregnancy makes the cardiovascular system work harder, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and the authors suggest that lactation helps restore maternal physiological systems to their pre-pregnancy state.”

Other studies11 have also shown breastfeeding benefits the mother by:

Enhancing maternal behavior through increased release of oxytocin, a hormone referred to as the “love hormone,” or “bonding hormone” Acting as a natural birth control, as it suppresses ovulation, making pregnancy less likely Reducing diabetic mothers’ need for insulin, as lactation lowers glucose levels naturally
Reducing the risk of women with gestational diabetes from becoming lifelong diabetics.

In one recent study,12 a woman’s risk of progressing from gestational diabetes to type 2 diabetes was inversely associated with length and intensity of breastfeeding

Reducing your risk of endometrial, ovarian, and breast cancers, including hormone receptor negative tumors,13 which are a very aggressive form of breast cancer Reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome

New Moms Need More Support

Hospitals also need to do a better job when it comes to promoting breastfeeding, and supporting women who want, but may struggle, to nurse. While some women cannot, for a variety of reasons, breastfeed, most can. More often than not, they simply need a little bit of guidance and support.

As noted in a recent CNN article,14 only 14 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born in hospitals offering breast-feeding support according to the global standard, which includes, but is not limited to, teaching nursing techniques and feeding cues, and allowing the father and baby to stay in the same room as the mother to facilitate round-the-clock nursing.

Perhaps even more egregious, most hospitals insist on giving infant formula to breastfed babies, sometimes against the mother’s wishes, which can make breastfeeding more difficult. As a society (and employers especially), we really need to provide new moms with the support and the means to breastfeed. In some cases, it’s a matter of knowing your rights. According to the Affordable Care Act, nursing mothers who work have the right to:

  • Reasonable break times to express breast milk during your work day, for up to one year after the birth of your child
  • A private place to pump other than a bathroom

Do You Need Help Breastfeeding?

The majority of women are able to produce adequate supplies of milk and breastfeed successfully. One common misperception is that you’re not producing enough milk. It’s important to realize that the more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce.

This is why supplementing with formula can be detrimental to your milk supply. Nursing moms also need to drink plenty of water and seek optimal nutrition while nursing. The first few weeks and months are critical in the process.

You should begin nursing as soon after birth as possible, as your baby’s sucking instinct will be very strong at that time, giving you the best chance of success. In the beginning, the milk that is produced is called colostrum – a thick, golden-yellow fluid that is very gentle for your baby’s stomach and full of beneficial antibodies. As your baby continues to nurse, your milk will gradually change in color and consistency from thick and yellow, to thinner with a bluish-white hue.

Newborns need to nurse at least once every two hours, for about 15 minutes or so on each side, but most do not adhere to any kind of strict schedule and feedings can vary in length. It is this frequent nursing that stimulates your breasts to produce increasing amounts of milk to keep up with demand.

You may want to begin planning for successful breastfeeding before your baby is even born by taking a breastfeeding class while you’re pregnant. La Leche League15 is a terrific resource to contact for help whether you want to prepare beforehand or find you’re having trouble breastfeeding once your baby is born.

Also find out whether your hospital of choice offers breastfeeding classes and lactation consultants who can help you. If it doesn’t, you may want to select a hospital that offers greater support.

Healthier Alternatives to Infant Formula

I encourage you to do all you can to breastfeed your baby successfully, and exclusively, for at least the first six months; and longer if possible. This is one of the best gifts you can give to your child and the health benefits will last a lifetime. If you find yourself unable to breastfeed, or you have adopted your newborn, you may want to consider using donated breast milk.

Unfortunately, there is a major downside to using breast milk from human milk banks that are now available in the U.S. The milk has been pasteurized, which means many of the essential immune-building elements will be decimated in the pasteurization process and your infant will fail to receive this crucial support when they need it the most.

So while human milk banks are a fantastic idea, the sad reality is that milk obtained from them – assuming it is pasteurized, as is standard process at most milk banks – is far inferior to breast milk that is unpasteurized. An alternative may be to work with a physician or pediatrician who is willing to help you find a safe milk donor, and who will be involved in a screening process to ensure the milk is safe.

If you’re unable to breastfeed or find a safe source of breast milk, your next best bet is to make your own infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.

Please steer clear of commercial infant formulas as much as possible. They’re far too high in refined sugar for optimal health, and sets your child on the path of craving sugar.

Definitely avoid soy infant formula, as it is loaded with dangerously high levels of toxic elements like manganese and aluminum. Soy formula is among the absolute worst commercial foods you could give your baby. However, even milk-based infant formulas have been found to be contaminated with chemical additives (including some boasting the “organic” label), and is best avoided.

Breastfeeding may protect children from developing asthma

breastfeeding children asthma

Children who were never breastfed had an increased risk of developing asthma symptoms at age 6 compared with those who were, and this was likely due to increased early life respiratory tract infections in children who were never breastfed, a new study found.

Never-breastfed children had an increased risk of late wheezing between the age of 3 to 6 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.69, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.06-2.69; p<0.05) and persistent wheezing from below age 3 until age 6 (OR, 1.44, 95 percent CI, 1.00-2.07; p<0.05) compared with ever-breastfed children. [Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2016;doi:10.1111/pai.12576]

Among breastfed children, a shorter duration of breastfeeding  (<2 months) was associated with early wheezing at age 3 and below (OR, 1.40, 95 percent CI, 1.14-1.73; p<0.01) and asthma at age 6 (OR, 2.19, 95 percent CI, 1.29-3.71; p<0.01) compared with those who have been breastfed for 6 months or longer.

However, the associations between breastfeeding duration and early wheezing or asthma became insignificant after the researchers accounted for lower respiratory tract infections in early childhood.

Furthermore, children who were introduced to food or drinks other than breast milk during the first 4 months of their life had an increased risk of early wheezing (OR, 1.28, 95 percent CI, 1.08-1.53; p<0.01) compared with those who were exclusively breastfed for the first 4 months. Similarly, these associations were attenuated after adjusting for early respiratory tract infections.

“We speculate that children who were never, shorter or less exclusively breastfed more often had respiratory tract infections in early life,” said the researchers, citing antibodies and other secretory factors present in the breast milk which could strengthen the infants’ immune system and hence reduce respiratory infections, as the underlying mechanisms linking breastfeeding and asthma risk.

The population-based prospective cohort study analysed data from 5,675 children in the Netherlands. Questionnaires were used to assess breastfeeding and children’s wheezing patterns from early life until age 6. Asthma at age 6 was determined based on whether the children have been clinically diagnosed with asthma previously and wheezing during the past 1 year.

The self-reported nature of assessment by questionnaires might limit the findings, according to the  authors, who suggested that longitudinal studies including objective measures on respiratory tract infections and inhalant allergies could elucidate the direction of causality, rather than just associations, in the future.

Breastfeeding protects infants from developing chronic diseases

Breastfeeding infants chronic diseases asthma obesity diabetes

Infants who were breastfed had a lower risk of developing non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity later in life, according to a study presented at the recent European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) annual meeting held in Athens, Greece.

“Understanding the associated neonatal risk factors for NCDs is a prerequisite to develop early life interventions to arrest the increasing epidemic burden of these chronic diseases,” said the researchers.

The researchers surveyed 6,379 individuals (mean age 25.6 years) on the effects of breastfeeding, caesarean section, and preterm birth on NCD development including asthma, allergy, type I and II diabetes, coeliac disease, overweight and obesity. [ESPGHAN 2016, abstract G-P-126]

Thirty-two percent of the participants reported having asthma or allergy, 20.7 percent had a body mass index [BMI]of >25 (out of which 5.5 percent were obese), 3.7 percent complained of coeliac disease, 1.6 percent presented with type II diabetes, and 0.8 percent presented with type I diabetes.

Participant who had been breastfed were less likely to develop asthma or allergy later in life (odds ratio [OR], 0.49; p=0.002). Also, breastfed individuals had a lower risk of developing type II diabetes (OR, 0.63; p=0.023), obesity (OR, 0.60; p<0.0001), and being overweight (OR, 0.74; p=0.014).

Preterm birth was associated with a lower risk of being overweight (OR, 0.69; p=0.015) and obese (OR, 0.65; p=0.012), but this was not true for asthma or allergy, coeliac disease, or type I and II diabetes.

Contrary to prior beliefs, birth by caesarean section was not associated with an increased risk of developing these NCDs.

“Caesarean per se is not a risk factor for NCD development via the gut microbiota hypothesis,” said the researchers, noting the conflicting conclusions from previous studies.

They also said further longitudinal studies were necessary to confirm their findings in the future.

“These [neonatal] characteristics could have a direct or indirect influence on neonatal gut establishment with subsequent health implications later in life,” the researchers said.

A mother’s protection: Dispelling myths around breastfeeding.

There are a lot of myths surrounding breastfeeding that have led to a decline in the practice. But doctors and experts have repeatedly stressed on its importance, not only for the newborn, but for the mother as well.

Breastfeeding helps a baby develop the required immunity to fight diseases and also develop a higher IQ. (Photo: Thinkstock)Breastfeeding helps a baby develop the required immunity to fight diseases and also develop a higher IQ. 

Recently, Medela India hosted the first edition of LactoClave 2016 in Delhi where leading gynaecologists, neonatologists and lactation consultants from Fortis La Femme Hospital gathered to discuss the need and importance of breastfeeding. This conclave gave mothers from all over the country an opportunity to participate in an event that acted as a great myth buster and eye-opener.

Eye-opening because since the past few years, people have been negating the significance of breastfeeding. Sure, there have been some studies (mostly promoted by leading brands) dismissing it, but medicine and science have continued to uphold the importance of breastfeeding for a newborn. It is the world’s best immuniser and can help a baby develop the required immunity to fight diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infection, childhood cancers, allergies, asthma, diarrhoea, HIV (from infected mothers), while providing life-long prevention from obesity. According to a 2015 study that was published in the Lancet, breastfeeding also helps a baby develop higher IQ. Now, wouldn’t you want that for your child?

But it’s just not the child who gains from it, even mothers stand to benefit from breastfeeding as it works as a protective shield against breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and post-menopausal osteoporosis. It also aids in losing post-pregnancy weight and lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a later age. According to World Cancer Research Fund International, women who breastfeed for at least a year, not necessarily at a stretch, are 5 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds; the more she sets the high hormone levels required for lactation, which affects cell growth by protecting the breast against changes that would otherwise make the breasts vulnerable to breast cancer.

In addition, the fact that women cease to ovulate during the time of producing milk also contributes in protection against the possibility of breast or ovarian cancer. But owing to changing lifestyle, women are gradually moving away from this practice. It is important that mothers don’t skip this lactation phase and wean away the newborns from colostrum (the yellowish colour milk) during the early days. Introducing babies to top feed within the first six months should be strictly avoided. Dr Tripat Chaudhary, director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis La Femme, says, “Vedic literature and Ayurveda highlights the importance of breastfeeding and signifies breast milk as the elixir of life.

There have been two major myths associated with the culture. First, that prelacteal feeds (mixture of honey and ghee to newborn for energy and easier acceptance of feeds) which actually leads to infection and delays in initiation of breastfeeding and the second that of destroying, which actually is most nutritious and beneficial for the baby.” Dr Raghuram Mallaiah, director, Neonatology, Fortis La Femme adds, “As per WHO and UNICEF guidelines, early initiation of breast milk is most beneficial. The education on this should be actively provided to new mothers and the families. The new born should be immediately moved to the mother except in very complicated deliveries. Babies should get the opportunity to latch on in the first hour and the sooner the baby latches on the early the initiation is.” How to go about it First, proper education for mothers and the family is a must and should start as early as the second trimester. Second, for a mother, the main priority should be to nurse her baby. The longer the period of breastfeeding, the more the benefits. If you are a lactating mom we suggest you follow the age-old technique but in case you have trouble feeding your child directly, then it doesn’t mean that you have to discontinue it. There are many accessories that can help you in working out your feeding challenges.

Here are a few that Dr Madhavi Latha, certified lactation consultant, physical therapist and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, suggests you should swear by: * If you are a working mother who wants to continue to breastfeed, a breast pump should be an essential part of your routine. Breast pumps help in extracting milk from a lactating mother which is later bottle fed to the child by a caregiver. A breast pump may also be used to stimulate lactation for women with a low milk supply.

* Many new moms may develop sore, painful, cracked nipples initially because of improper baby latch. Nipple shield or hydrogel pads is a great way to save yourself from sore, cracked nipples. Another accessory that you should keep handy is a nipple puller if your nipple is flat, inverted or puckered. * If you are a nursing mother managing household chores or working from home, breastfeeding at regular intervals could be a tiring task. Nursing tanks allow new mothers to breastfeed comfortably without any hassle. Bonus: They can be layered up inside tees or maxis when you go out. * New moms pumping milk to feed the baby at a later time need to store it somewhere. Breast milk storage bags are convenient to use for such a purpose. If you don’t like the idea of filling your freezer with plastic bags of milk and only need to store a small amount at a time, try filling up extra baby bottles with pumped milk. Then label and store them in the refrigerator for up to eight days. * Go for a nursing bra as it provides the additional support and permits comfortable breastfeeding without the need to remove the bra. Celebrity moms like Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba have been spotted wearing nursing bras during the first few months of their delivery. * Considering the fact that a baby requires feeding every 2 hours (or more), it can really take a toll on your back. Having a pillow to prop your little one on while nursing can lighten your load, might ease back pain and make the experience better.


Note: Breast cancer accounts for 25-32 per cent of all cancer in females and largely affects women below 50 years of age, that is, 48 per cent of women between ages 20 and 50 years. In India, breast cancer rates have relatively been low in the past but with the changing scenario there has been a sudden rise in the graph among females. A study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Indian Council of Medical Research has unveiled that urban working women who yield to higher abortions, late reproduction, shorter periods of breastfeeding and larger consumption of oral contraceptive pills have higher vulnerability to breast and ovarian cancer.

%d bloggers like this: